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Wanders of the World


FRANCE | Wednesday, 17 October 2007 | Views [562] | Comments [2]

Amy: It is hard to describe the feeling I had when I had my first sighting of the Eiffel tower.  We were probably only 10 or 15 km’s away when it appeared on the skyline as we rounded the corner on one of our few descents of the day.  It has been a long 1,300 kilometres of riding with our trailers and my legs were quite sore from the last 3 days of constant hills.  There have been moments of doubt when aching legs have kept me up at night, a few fleeting thoughts of taking another train, but all that was forgotten when it became apparent that we were going to achieve our goal of cycling into Paris.  It is quite amazing to self propel yourself from one location to another,  counting solely on your equipment, fitness, occasional directions from kind strangers, some luck and a lot of determination.  (I think the Belgium chocolate helped to).  I think the feeling was a combination of a lot of feelings; joy, relief, pride, and a real sense of accomplishment. 


Back tracking to our last update, we left Gournay en Bray with the intention of cycling about 50k.  It was an incredibly foggy morning and we had to turn our flashing lights on so cars could see us.  The fog didn’t actually lift until around noon.  There were several times when we passed fields with hunters.  We weren’t sure what they were hunting for but we picked up our speed a little and hoped it wasn’t cyclists.  We ended up cycling about 65 Km’s of hills to the small town of US.  We were hoping to find a campground but there wasn’t one. We looked for a hotel but it had closed down.  It was only about 4pm but neither one of us felt we could go any further as the hills were taking their toll.  We found a small park that had a grassy area in behind some tennis courts and we decided to camp out there for the night.  The only problem with this idea was we didn’t have much to drink.  I was completely out of water, Patti had about ½ a cup in her bottle and we had about 3 sips of Diet Coke.  We went for a short ride around town and discovered that nothing was open (small town on a Sunday night).  We had to settle for what we had.  For supper we ate cold pasta, it was already prepared in a sauce but you were suppose to warm it up.  Since we didn’t have any water to do dishes we decided to just eat it cold, it was actually quite tasty. We also had ½ a baguette left over from lunch and some cookies so we did not go hungry.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm afternoon and it felt good just to sit in the sun and be warm. We waited until dusk to set up the tent and no one came around to tell us we had to leave.  We were up and on our way by 9:30 am and rode about 15K before we found a store that was open to buy some drinks and some bread for lunch.  At some point during this 15K I began having problems with my gears.  Upon closer review we discovered that one of the links in my chain had become twisted so it was causing me grief every time it went through my derailleur.   Patti borrowed a wrench from a take out pizza restaurant and we used a small set of pliers we had to try and straighten it out.  No luck.  A young local boy came by and was quite interested in our trailers and our problem.  Patti was able to ask him in French if there was a place where we could get my bike fixed and he said he would take us.  We followed him through the town for about 10 blocks and ended up at a car garage.  He went in and spoke to someone and then left before we could even thank him for his help.  After a couple of minutes the mechanic came out, looked at the problem, got his tools and had us fixed and on our way within minutes.  Once again things had a way of working themselves out.  We wish we could have thanked our young friend for his help.

Later in the afternoon when were stopped to look at the map and plan our route a young guy rode up from behind us on his bike.  It was loaded up with gear and he had a Switzerland flag flying from the back.  His name was Sam and he was headed to Paris too.  We compared maps and ideas and decided to ride the rest of the way together.  The route we came up with was excellent.  We found our way without too much trouble or traffic.  We were pretty tired from the previous 2 days of riding so we stopped at a campground about 5 or 6 km’s from the Eiffel tower. (you could see it from the campground)  Sam decided to stay as well so we spent the evening eating, drinking French beer (it was 1664 and I give it 2 thumbs up) and playing scrabble.  Sam was working on his English (which we thought was excellent) but we allowed him German words too.  It was a great evening. 


This morning Sam gave us a lesson in slack lining (tight rope walking) before we headed out for the Eiffel tower.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  The traffic into town wasn’t too bad and it only took us about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the Eiffel tower.  We took a couple of pictures but did not stay long as we plan to go back over the next few days.  We said goodbye to Sam and headed off to find the campground that we had reserved our bungalow at.  The ride through the city was incredible.  We rode along the Seine and passed the national assembly, museum du Louvre, palace of justice, and Notre-Dame.  It was amazing to be riding through the city with all our gear and seeing such famous landmarks.


We stopped and picked up some sandwiches for lunch at a take-out café and it turned out that the woman in front of me in line was from London, Ontario.  Small world.  We ended up riding about 30 K in total today and once again ended up where we were supposed to be.


We are in a bungalow, in a campground in Champigney sur Marne.  It is just outside of Paris and we plan on staying here until Sunday.  We will do day trips into Paris and go to Versailles.  We are planning on renting a car and heading to the south of France after that.  It was kind of sad to see Patti pack up our trailers for travelling today.  They have served us well over the past 39 days, it will be a different experience from here on out.


I almost forgot….I bought a real sized bottle of wine today; it even has a cork instead of a screw top. It is a Chardonnay from France, made by the 7 Sisters vineyard.  This Chardonnay is from Emilie, who is the youngest and most romantic of the 7 sisters.  Her sunny personality reflects through her wine.  This pale golden wine has a citrus nose with floral hints and rounded fruity flavours, or so the bottle says.  I like it.

Tags: On the Road



A tour guide and a wine connoisseur as well, your new calling?? Congrats on making Paris. Now relax and enjoy.

  Cori Oct 18, 2007 12:21 AM


Hi Patti and Amy. I'm not sure if it compares but you both have had the satisfaction of crossing the marathon finish line ... there are few feelings like it!! Congratulations!!
I was acting principal at my school today. Nothing too exciting happened though, I only made one grade 5 boy cry. (I better get a bit tougher.) The final coat of paint is done in Carly's room. I hope things work out this weekend and I can get the painting completed. Keep the messages coming. I'm thrilled with the updates on your adventures.

  Bob Oct 18, 2007 3:17 PM

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